What's Going On...

I absolutely love blogging. It is an outlet. It is a place to let all that's racing in my mind out. It helps keep me sane. Whenever this blogger page pops up, I get giddy. Some days I have no idea what's even going to come clicking on these keys, but one thing I do know is I love getting the final product done.

Yet there times when my thoughts are dry and feeble. I feel I have nothing to say that would get people excited or it could be, more importantly, my family needs me more than this laptop does. That's exactly where I've been recently -- with my family. Sometimes blogging needs to get put aside.

You might've noticed my blog looks different these days. There was a little "opps" that happened a week or so ago and now I have to pay to get it switched back. Well, can you still like Wholesome Bits without all the whimsy it once had? I am hoping people come back and read it for the content and not mainly for it's appearance. Say you'll stay. We'll see about getting it switched back one of these days.

Until then here are some things I have learned recently which may or may not be related to anything wholesome

1. If you aren't careful, you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what you should and should not eat. Eat real foods. Eat in moderation. Drink lots of water. Enjoy those occasional indulgences.
2. Never stop learning. Be an agent that can share knowledge, but one who can also learn from others easily too.
3. Just because it's your way of thinking doesn't mean others agree. Go easy on people if they do things differently than you. You aren't walking in their shoes.
4. Be happy with small accomplishments and stop comparing yourself to others.
5. Let your children see you smile and happy often.
6. Look people in the eyes.
7. Learn to appreciate others' uniquenesses. Don't like people just because they do life just like you.
8. If you don't like something in your life, change it. Don't believe that you can't ever change.
9. Take a multi-vitamin and added vitamin C & D, omega-3's, and magnesium specifically.
10. Try not to fill your life with so much stuff that you are dependent on those things to make you who you really aren't.


Perspective, Mulch & Cauliflower

Life is full of twists. One day you are all gung-ho about something which usually for me, is something silly. Then other days you find some perspective and realize whatever it was you were "gung-ho" about wasn't that important after all.

Today was one of those days for me.

Lately, I have been probably, slightly, ummm, ok... I've been flat-out obsessing about my backyard. Gotta mulch here. Gotta buy more flowers there.

Grass seed.

Stone paths.




And why? I don't know why. Maybe I worry what my neighbors think. Maybe I'm just tired of seeing weeds everywhere. Regardless, I've been obsessing.

From left to right: Me, Betsy and my other great friend, Stacy

Today I got to see a friend of mine, Betsy, who has been living in Haiti since before Christmas. They are in the process of adopting two more children from there. I had the pleasure of sitting for about 3 hours just hearing what her life has been for the past 6 months in a third-world country. She had video of the room {not house} her family of 6 lives in within the orphanage. Their bathroom with the bucket they fill to wash with. Their kid's bunk beds that literally were a foot away from where she and her hubby sleep.

And here I obsess about my backyard???

She told other stories too that made me realize just how spoiled I am.

If I am stressing about what flowers look just right in my side yard flowerbeds then I am spoiled.

If I stress that my deck is too small then I am spoiled.

If I am stressing because I don't have the right outdoor pillows for my patio chairs then I am definitely spoiled.

Perspective -- although not always what we're asking for -- is sometimes what we really need.

We need it... I need it to me help see and rinse out like a colander what is really important in this life. The material things... our homes... our furniture... our iPhones... our backyards even... will someday be gone.

Perspective is good.

And to think when I first sat down to write this post, my mind was obsessing over how I was going to tell you all the reasons why we should be eating cauliflower.



21 Healthy Tips to Help You Lose Weight

Losing weight can be as elusive as finding the Holy Grail. To some it can be ever so hard to accomplish. But for others, not an issue.... ever. For me, I feel I have been on a 'weight losing' coaster for the better part of my life.

Before I continue, please understand that my No.1 belief is this... being healthy trumps body size. Period! God uniquely designed each of us and thank goodness He never used cookie cutters when he created man or woman. I have a friend who is the same height as me. And yet, she is generally about 10 pounds lighter than me. We wear the same size clothes too! We can't compare ourselves to others. There's just no explaining our sizes, shapes and weights. Focus on being the healthiest YOU that you can be.

Well, we all know when we need to lose some weight. I knew I did about a year ago when I was winded when climbing a flight of stairs. I didn't feel good in my clothes and bottom line... I KNEW what I was putting in my body was JUNK!

So if you KNOW you need to lose some weight, here are simple and healthy ways to help you in this endeavour - I know there's a lot. You can't do them all. Do what you can, but in the end, just love yourself!!!

1. Eat clean. No processed junk. If it's in a box, made from man, your body will not function right and you will hold on to fat! Plain and simple.

2. Stay hydrated. Not only does water aid in digestion, help flush out toxins from the liver, and tone muscles, it also helps to suppress your appetite and increase metabolism. Experts recommend drinking 68 oz of water a day, for a woman with an inactive lifestyle. {Oh, by the way, my friend who weighs 10 pounds less than me??? She drinks a lot of water!}

4. Reduce avoidable stressors in your life and get more sleep! Your brain releases cortisol a hormone that messes with your metabolism when you are stressed. If you want to lose weight, you must find ways to reduce the controllable stresses in your life. A Kaiser Permanente study, published in the International Journal of Obesity found people with lower stress levels who slept more than six hours, but not more than eight were able to lose at least 10 pounds over six months, compared to a control group.Take walks, practice relaxation or breathing techniques, take more breaks, laugh more and get your sleep!

5. If you are having a hard time losing weight, fish oil supplements should become one of your best friends. They are known for being fat burning by nature. Studies have shown that fish oil supplements coupled with a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise can help you lose weight permanently.

5. Green tea helps speed up your metabolism and also helps to burn fat. Drink 3-5 cups daily or supplement orally.

6. Detox... our liver takes a beating and can become sluggish with toxins from food and polluted air. Are you treating it well and cleaning it out regularly? Some simple ways that you can daily care for your liver are any of the following: dry brushing, lemon-infused water upon rising, juicing (replace a few meals a week), sauna therapy (sweating it out), rebounding, cleansing herbs such as  dandelion, licorice, milk thistle, bilberry, chicory root, burdock and astragalus.

7. Reduce your fat intake... particularly those that originate from animals... dairy and meats.

8. You may be deficient in Vitamin D. Dr. John Cannell, M.D., from the Vitamin D Council wrote recently that vitamin D does appear to provide causative weight loss benefits, if not simply by increasing heart health and providing the body with more energy to get up off the couch and be active. He recommends taking 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily for average-weight adults weighing between 125-200 pounds

9. Track your calories. It is amazing what a little bite here and there can add up to.If you have a calorie deficit, you're going to lose weight, if you consume extra calories, you'll gain it. I am thoroughly enjoying keeping my calories in check thanks to My Fitness Pal app.

10. I have learned that just 20 minutes of exercise is effective in reducing your weight. But what will make your weight loss even more effective... weight training. According to Natural News, strength training will greatly increase the speed of your weight loss effort. It will also double the effectiveness of any weight loss program you're on. So grab some weights and get busy.

12. Increase your fiber intake. If you are not having regular BM's, your gut is not getting properly cleaned out. If you have a dirty colon, weight loss will be inhibited. There are several foods that give adequate amounts of fiber ~ check them out here.

13. Consider having at least one meatless meal a week.

14. Don't skip breakfast. According to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a healthy breakfast is important in maintaining an ideal body weight. People who skip breakfast to save calories often overeat later in the day, or snack on foods that are high in fat and sugar. Plus, breakfast gives your metabolism a boost.(via Active.com)

15. Avoid white carbs... you know, cookies, cakes, crackers... anything that is not made with 100% whole grains. Overeating white, refined carbs will cause insulin imbalances. Your body has to produce increasing amounts of insulin to break down sugars. Eventually you become resistant to the insulin, and instead converting excess glucose into glycogen, it turns into fat.

16. Munch on these foods that rev up your metabolism... pumpkin seeds, avocados and almonds (keep serving sizes in check though!).

17. Evaluate if you have a food intolerance (sensitivities). You may have a food intolerance and not really know it. Side effects can mimic those to irritable bowel like skin eruptions, Crohn's disease or inflammation of the GI tract, ear problems, lethargy, nasal congestion, arthritis symptoms and allergies. Common foods that people can be sensitive to are wheat, dairy, sugar and corn. A key element in figuring out what food to eliminate first is, ask which food you eat very often and a food you have high cravings for. Read more about an elimination diet here.

18. Stop eating 3 hours before you go to sleep.

19. Incorporate healthy fats like avocados, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, fish and nuts. Don't avoid these foods. These fats fire up your metabolism so that you can lose weight.

20. Keep up with supplements. All overweight people are deficient in major nutrients. Here is a list of ones to consider (please research these on your own to see which ones you may need): B vitamins, l-tyrosine, CoQ10, digestive enzymes, flax oil, kelp, lecithin, ginseng.

21. Stop drinking diet soda... please! According to Sharon Fowler, MPH, "Diet soda is not a health food. In fact, it's not a food at all, it's simply a slurry of chemicals, a number of which may have deleterious effects on the body." Most recently diet sodas have been tied to increased risk of stroke and heart attack, and while many people drink them as an aid to weight reduction, research suggests if you drink diet soda, weight gain may be the result instead. (via Natural News)

So these are just my takes on weight loss... what are proven ways that work for you???


And The Winner is... Plus a Meal Plan with an Ice Cream Recipe You HAVE to Try!!

So thankful for all of you who completed the survey (feel free to complete the survey if you haven't). My intent with Wholesome Bits is to make it what the readers want. So this is a huge help to me as I begin to put my energies into another year here.

So the winner is... Darleen L! Yay!! Congrats :) Can you just send me your address and I'll get the Target gift card to you soon!

Here are the healthy meals our family will eat this week! I have been in a slump with getting them together and trust me, it is not good when you don't plan. On to a better week!!! And as always, love your feedback on if you liked the meals or not.

Turkey burgers ~ 2 lbs of lean ground turkey, 1 T chipotle flavored Tabasco, 1 small onion chopped, salt & pepper, 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (helps to stop the burgers from crumbling down into the grill) and 2 T of crumbled feta. Burgers on whole grain buns, lettuce, guacamole and salsa.
Corn on cob

Grilled Pizza with red onion, basil, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, garlic.
Fresh pineapple

Curried chicken with sweet potatoes and cauliflower. From Eating Well found here.

Grilled teriyaki-glazed salmon from Everyday with Rachael Ray
Steamed broccoli
Brown rice.

Chicken pad thai from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook
Banana cocoa peanut butter ice cream... I would recommend freezing the banana for longer than an hour. But this recipe makes me want to go to Sam's and buy 50 pounds of bananas... amazing!


Simple Mother's Day Lunch Ideas

When you are a mommy to little ones, sometimes Mother's Day is.. Busy. Chaotic. Maybe not the spa-like day you envisioned before you had kids. But those things aren't important, give me some homemade cards, some slobbery kisses and sweet hugs and this momma's quite happy! But there is one thing I love on Mother's Day... a nice meal with my family.

In years past our family would "try" to go out to eat on Mother's Day to give me a break from the kitchen. But with four little squirming boys and the dreaded wait to be seated on Mother's Day does not usually equate to a low stress time for me.

Finally, last year, my husband and I had an idea. Let's stay home! But wait, my sweet hubby doesn't cook! Oh.... OH! My husband wanted to get the boys to help him, but he needed help too... so we went shopping together to buy the ingredients on our list, made some things the night before and then I slightly "guided" the men in the kitchen on the big day. Just having help and my husband "managing" things made it a true delight!

This endeavor worked out great! And I absolutely loved it. The boys enjoyed it and the best part? No crowds. Plus lots of precious time, just us, around the table.

If you would like a simple, Mother's Day meal at home, here are some fairly simple and healthy suggestions for you!

Main Dish Ideas: 

1. Asian Chicken Kebabs from My Baking Addiction
2. Pecan Crusted Chicken & Apple Salad from Kitchen Simplicity
3. Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon from Cooking Light
4. Foil-Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn from Pink Parsley
5. Spinach Frittata from Simply Recipes

Side Dish Ideas:

1. Grilled Asparagus from Simply Recipes
2. Slow Cooker Parmesan-Mushroom Risotto from Oh! You Cook! 
3. Honey Glazed Carrots from Food Network 
4. Bib Lettuce and Radish Salad from Cafe Lynnylu
5. Rainbow Fruit Skewers from Babble.com

1. Chocolate-Hazelnut and Banana Crepes from Martha Stewart 
2. Chocolate Covered Strawberries from Martha Stewart
3. Cocoa Meringues from Parents Magazine
4. Cinnamon Apple Quinoa Parfait from Epicurean Mom
5. Lemon Cheesecake Yogurt Cups by Skinny Taste

Mom, you are special. Enjoy your special day and savor the time with your loved ones. 

Happy Mother's Day!


Wholesome Bits Survey PLUS Target Gift Card Giveaway

As I move into my second year of blogging, I am evaluating "how" the blog is doing. I love the feedback that you give and am encouraged by so many of you who are striving {along with me} to live healthier lives. But as a blogger you must come to a point where you need to figure out a more specific direction for where you want your blog to go... and that's the point I am at.

I value and appreciate my readers' opinions. I want to curtail the posts to more of  what YOU want. I want it to be more enjoyable and a better resource and in turn, something that brings you back.

I have created five questions that I would love for you to answer in the comments. And just as parents bribe their children with goodies for good behavior, I'm bribing you! Answer all five questions in the comment section and I will add your name to a drawing for a $10 gift card to Target. Now who can pass up a gift card to Target???

Ok, here goes!

1. What content on Wholesome Bits do you like to read most? (please answer one)
     a. healthy meal plans
     b. recipes
     c. natural/green living posts
     d. spiritual bits
     e. other (please specify)

2. What content would you like to see more of? (please answer one)
     a. more healthy, more extended (two-week or more) healthy meal plans
     b. more kid-friendly meals, snacks, school lunches
     c. more healthy, easy, family-friendly recipes
     d. more bits on ways to live healthier: ways avoid disease, lose weight, have more
         energy, etc.
     e. ways to live greener (ie: homemade cleaners, composting, gardening, reducing a 
         toxic environment, recycling, etc)
     f. more spiritual/encouraging/personal bits 
     g. other (please specify)

3. What makes you come back to Wholesome Bits?

4. What makes Wholesome Bits unique from other blogs?

5. Do you ever share (via Facebook, Twitter, or personally) content you have liked on Wholesome Bits? What would make you want to share more content you've read on WB with others? 

Thank you so much for taking the time to help me out! I look forward to another year of blogging and helping people live healthier lives. 

Giveaway Info: Contests ends on Friday at midnight. Due to shipping, entries are limited to those living in the 48 contiguous United States.You must answer all 5 questions in comment section only. 

Winner will be notified via email and/or on Facebook.  

Thank you and good luck!!


Super Stuffed Veggie & Chicken Enchiladas

Mexican food is quite appealing to me. I love the flavors of cumin and cilantro. I love beans... any kind. What else? Tomatoes, corn, onion. You could just take all those just mentioned and throw them in a tortilla and I'd be in heaven.

This meal is quite easy... quite quick... quick tasty. OH, and most importantly, quite healthy. By omitting sour cream in and out of the enchilada and relying on the avocado to bring the creaminess and the sauces inside to give it a bit of "wetness" to the enchilada, the fat content is drastically reduced.

This recipe is a keeper. I hope you agree!

Super Stuffed Veggie & Chicken Enchiladas

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can enchilada (red) sauce, divided
1/2 small can green chiles (add more for more heat, if you'd like!)
1/2 small can salsa verde
1 cup frozen corn
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small onion, chopped (red or yellow)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for topping
A few shakes of ground cumin 
A few more shakes of garlic powder :) 
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and chopped or shredded
8 large whole wheat tortillas
iceberg lettuce, thinly chopped
1 cup 2% milk Mexican 4 cheese blend
1 ripe avocado

1. Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Coat bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Spoon and spread about 2 tbsp of enchilada sauce on bottom of pan as well.

2. In a large bowl add beans, chiles, zucchini, onion, cilantro, salsa, sauce, spices and salt. Mix until the salsa and sauce are incorporated well.  

3. Saute chicken breasts with olive oil in skillet until no longer pink inside... approximately 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Chop or shredded when cooled. Add chicken to bean and veggie mixture. 

4. Take about 3/4 cup of mixture and lay in middle of each tortilla and tightly wrap each tortilla. Lay tortillas seam down in prepared pan.  

5. Evenly spread the remainder of the enchilada sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle cheese on top. 

6. Cook in oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly on top. Let cool slightly. 

7. Before serving add lettuce, cilantro and a nice helping of sliced avocado on top.

Serves 8 enchiladas.